NEWARK – There’s nothing like a buzzer beater.
Especially when the game-winning shot ends a drought that’s been years in the making.
Mount Pleasant’s Raheim Burnett’s floater gave the Green Knights their first win over Hodgson after 33 consecutive failed attempts. After years of waiting, the Knights finally knocked off the Eagles 66-64 at Hodgson Vocational-Technical High school on Thursday night.
“In the huddle, we drew up something for the press, but they didn’t press us,” Burnett said. “When I got the ball in my hands, I just had to make a play.”
With eight seconds left, Burnett was immediately surrounded by three Hodgson defenders after crossing half court. The senior managed to get through traffic with a right-to-left crossover. With a few seconds remaining on the clock, Burnett was able to get off a floater just inside the 3-point line, but off the wrong foot.
“I believed (it was going in),” Burnett said. “I work hard, so it had to come to me.”
According to Lisa Sullivan, her team practices the shot every day.
“We teach it,” said the Mount. Pleasant coach. “We have a history with Hodgson, and we’ve lost as far back as we can trace. 33 straight times, so it was about us. We gave our best effort and we got the outcome we desired.”
The two teams went back-and-forth all game as they battled to the very end, literally.
The score was tied at 16 after the first quarter, but the Knights used a 19-12 advantage in the second to give them a 35-28 lead at the half.
But in the third, the game swung in the Eagles’ favor. Hodgson outscored Mount Pleasant 21-13, but still was down two points at the end of the quarter. But, a three-pointer from Raymond Jones gave the Eagles the lead just before the buzzer, as Hodgson headed to the fourth with momentum.
The teams continued to battle in the fourth. But then, all the craziness began in the final two minutes.
“We had a little stretch where we turned it over, and then they turned it over,” Sullivan said. “We missed a layup, and then they missed a layup. I think that’s just the intensity of the game. High-schoolers aren’t getting paid yet, and you’ve got to live with the mistakes.”
The score was tied when Burnett scored a layup to put the Knights up 60-58. And 27 seconds later, Jaire Brown’s bucket gave the Knights a 4-point cushion at 62-58. But 10 seconds later, the momentum swung back towards the Eagles when John Stanbury’s 3-pointer cut the lead to one with 1:10 left.
Tony Coleman thought his team had it, but that was before the Eagles turned the ball over on back-to-back fast break attempts that would have given them the lead.
“There are critical moments like that when your fighting to get the ball back, and then you turn it over,” said the Hodgson coach. “It was our chance to take the lead and total command of the game. But we turned it over, and those are plays I wish we could get back.”
After a foul, Burnett stepped to the line and knocked down both ends of a one-and-one to put Mount. Pleasant up 64-61.
It looked like it was over, but Jones had other plans. The senior knocked down a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left to tie the game. Everything was set up for the Hawks in overtime, but that was all before Burnett did his magic.
“It came down to the last eight seconds of the game, and the ball got into Burnett’s hands,” Coleman said. “He made a big shot. I was hoping to force overtime, but it just didn’t happen that way.”
“We have nothing to hold our heads down about.”
Stansbury and Bryan Daniels led all scorers with 17 points apiece, while Jones finished with 16. With the loss, the Eagles fell to 9-10.
Robert Myrick led the way for the Knights with 14 points. Ronald Shipman-Scott had 12, while the trio of Burnett, Brown and Sharif Holland allh scored 11. The win improved Mount Pleasant to an impressive 17-1, and gave Sullivan a win that she’ll never forget.
“It’s the best win I’ve had in a long time,” she said. “It feels good, really good.”
Contact Carron J. Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @carronJphillips.